AMFA leader says lets get rid of U & UAL

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Sep 11, 2002
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http://www.startribune.com/stories/535/3596497.html
Liz Fedor
Star Tribune

Published Jan. 19, 2003 MECH19
Steve MacFarlane, a 47-year-old Northwest Airlines mechanic, is not leaving office quietly as he finishes his tenure as the first president of Local 33 of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA).
MacFarlane, co-chairman of the drive to bring AMFA to Eagan-based Northwest, will return to his job working on 757s after Jim Atkinson is sworn in Tuesday as the new AMFA president.
In the final weeks of his term, MacFarlane made a public declaration that his union members will not accept wage concessions, and he traveled to Washington, D.C., to fight congressional efforts to take away labor's right to strike and to force binding arbitration on us.
Known for his candor, MacFarlane also gave a blunt assessment of the airline industry during a wide-ranging recent interview in the union's Bloomington office.
There's no question that consolidation is going to happen, MacFarlane said. As a union leader, he added, it's difficult to acknowledge that it would be healthy for other airlines if United Airlines and US Airways go out of business. But the fact is that's the fix that the industry needs right now, because there are way too many seats flying around.
US Airways and United currently are in bankruptcy court, where United reported that it's been losing $20 million a day.
The fix is not to continue to funnel money from the government to these weak airlines and keep them flying, he said. All that's going to do is prolong the inevitable and eventually all the airlines are going to be struggling to try to maintain.
MacFarlane, who's been a mechanic for 23 years, said United and US Airways have been running inefficient operations that are harming the ability of stronger carriers, such as Northwest, to increase revenue.
If both airlines went away today, he said, it would be horrible for the employees, vendors and passengers of United and US Airways. But
he said the surviving airlines would serve their routes and they could actually sell a seat for a profit again.
Major airlines lost about $9 billion last year. Northwest lost $310 million during the first three quarters and will report fourth-quarter results on Tuesday.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks, airlines cut flights and laid off thousands of workers, but they have not recovered financially. Passenger demand still lags. Northwest reported that business passenger revenue for the airline industry is down 21 percent for the first 11 months of 2002 compared with the previous year.
We either need to have more people to sit in those seats or we have to have less seats so that the supply and demand balances out, MacFarlane said. He's not optimistic that there will be a major upswing in passenger demand, so he argues the airlines need to reduce their flight capacity.
No first move
But nobody wants to make the first move. If Northwest shrinks, their fear is that the Americans or the Deltas are going to take their market share, MacFarlane said.
As AMFA Local 33 president, MacFarlane represents about 3,700 mechanics, 260 airplane cleaners and 40 custodians from Northwest and 200 mechanics from Minneapolis-based Mesaba Airlines, a regional carrier.
In a Dec. 10 letter to his members, MacFarlane wrote, The industry must stop expecting us to subsidize the flying public's penchant for low fares. The letter, which caught the attention of Northwest management, said, If the only way NWA can survive is by sacrificing our standard of living, then there is something wrong with the business plan.
MacFarlane said he wrote the letter because he believes Northwest CEO Richard Anderson and President Doug Steenland have been floating trial balloons in their very subtle way to prepare employees for a wage-concessions request.
He wanted to unequivocally state that the AMFA membership will not be a party to wage givebacks. AMFA members have won two major battles since 1998 and MacFarlane said his union is prepared for future skirmishes with Northwest.
Other victories
In November 1998, Northwest mechanics, cleaners and custodians voted to oust the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a large industrial union, and replace it with AMFA, a small craft union. IAM represents a variety of job categories, while AMFA focuses on the needs of mechanics.
The second major victory was a four-year contract settlement in 2001 that MacFarlane said was superior to the tentative agreement IAM negotiators reached in 1998.
MacFarlane and other AMFA supporters started a low-key campaign in June 1997 to solicit employee signatures to authorize a union representation election. We had no intention of filing for an election in the middle of negotiations, he said. We knew that the company could use this as a lever against the union.
But MacFarlane said it was the IAM's tentative agreement in 1998 that served as the catalyst for holding an election and bringing AMFA to Northwest. It did not make us whole from the concessions of 1993 through 1996. It did not make up for the inflation that was eroded from us, he said. The frustration was so high with the IAM negotiators, MacFarlane said. Instead of accepting the terms of the agreement, the mechanics, cleaners and custodians called for an election and chose AMFA to represent them.
AMFA won because the IAM disappointed their members so much that there was no going back, MacFarlane said. We were not willing to sell our skills and abilities for discount prices.
He noted that AMFA prides itself on its democratic principles. At the negotiating table, MacFarlane said 25 seats were opened up so members could watch the talks. And it takes only 25 percent of the members to initiate the recall of an AMFA officer. MacFarlane said power lies with the membership, not union leaders.
MacFarlane said AMFA has refused to take part in regular meetings between Northwest management and union leaders because his union does not believe in secrets. Other union participants in the sessions have signed confidentiality agreements.
We don't work that way, MacFarlane said. If Northwest Airlines has something that they want to share with the union leadership, expect it to be shared with our members.
-- Liz Fedor is at lfedor@startribune.com.
 

delldude

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[STRONG]this may be the opertune time to bring AMFA in to U.i can tell he's all for us! [/STRONG]
 

trvlr64

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Aug 20, 2002
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HHmmm?! I'd rather walk or take a Greyhound bus than fly Northwest. This PAX had the unfortunate period last year when I had to fly NW instead of U or UA. Even though I don't find UA staff that pleasant, they were a heck of a lot nicer than those rude jerks from NW. (US is of course always the best!)

Wonder if NW is in as a good shape financially as they say they are. Sounds almost like a smoke screen to me.
 

skyflyr69

Senior
Dec 11, 2002
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perhaps now all the groups at U will focus on giving superior service so U can drive out the competition. U did a survey awhile back and the NUMBER 1 request was more personal attention. time will tell if the U employees can rise to the occasion.
 

iflyjetz

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Oct 2, 2002
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[blockquote]
----------------
On 1/19/2003 8:55:25 AM trvlr64 wrote:

Wonder if NW is in as a good shape financially as they say they are. Sounds almost like a smoke screen to me.
----------------
[/blockquote]

NW is probably in the best shape of any major carrier. They're sitting on a large hoarde of cash and their cash burn rate is under control.
They will come out of all of this smelling like a rose. However, the landscape may change somewhat after CAL and AMR file chap 11. I anticipate both of them filing within the next 12 months unless the airline industry improves dramatically.
 

mrplanes

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Sep 17, 2002
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The AMFA guy is correct. This industry would get instantly healthy if U and UAL cease to exist. CAL and AMR will NOT go C11. They will get what they need without that hanging around their necks. They are not nearly as bad a shape as we and UAL were/are. And Bethune and Carty will not allow some judge to run their companies.

I can't speak for UAL but I can for us. Siegle is the key. If (big if) he uses the tools we just gave him correctly we will be a very profitable and sucessful carrier. If (big if) he surrounds himself with intelligent and capable people we will flourish. If (not a big if) we continue to do our jobs as professionally as we have over the past 6 months of this nightmare we will become the carrier that people choose when they have a choice. But the whole ball of wax rests with Siegle. Our future is in his hands. I hope he knows what he's doing. If he doesn't the AMFA guy will look like a prophet.

mr
 

1ab

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Aug 21, 2002
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Well is that not convenient for them to let u and united go now that they are in BK..
Continental just came out of BK no one said let them go away..
What we feeling scared of the (U) airlines knowing once they come out of BK they good become better and harder to compete with...
Maybe after Usairways comes out of BK Bronner buys out United.
No dont do that ppl will get a heart attack
 

mrplanes

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Sep 17, 2002
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Piney:

IMHO, Dave has shown outstanding skill to this point in navigating the C11 scenario. He has the judge on his side as proven by the approval of the plan to go to the creditors for a vote. GE and RSA as well as the ATSB have shown confidence in his ability. He also has attained over a Billion Bucks from us in givebacks and work rule changes. From these facts no one can argue he doesn't know how to work the C11 process. At that he seems to be masterful.

Can he run an airline? Hmmmmm.... I agree with the premise of RJ's at off peak times and big jets as the need arises. I agree with using Alaska as a model if he sees us as the east coast version. The Carribean expansion makes great sense with the fleet and feed we have. The code share with UAL will be great if they get their act together. The pieces SEEM to be falling into place. Based on that I've seen he CAN run an airline. The unknowns are troubling however. Traffic, Fuel, War etc... will be his biggest challenges. There is also another challenge.

Us. Will he treat us as the MOST important asset of the company as JetBlue and Southwest do? Will his Harvard education allow him to do that? What we have given to save this company must be rewarded somehow. He needs to get us on his team in heart and mind and not just givebacks. Morale will suffer if he doesn't. And in a service industry that is not a good thing. We shall see.

I think he can do it. I just hope he understands how important his employees are in the process.

mr
 

delldude

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[P]
[BLOCKQUOTE][BR]----------------[BR]On 1/19/2003 8:41:35 PM skyflyr69 wrote:
[P]perhaps now all the groups at U will focus on giving superior service so U can drive out the competition. U did a survey awhile back and the NUMBER 1 request was more personal attention. time will tell if the U employees can rise to the occasion.[/P]----------------[/BLOCKQUOTE]
[P][/P][STRONG][FONT face="Courier New"]you want to sell a product,the personalised approach does it everytime.[/FONT][/STRONG]
 

delldude

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Oct 29, 2002
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[P]
[BLOCKQUOTE][BR]----------------[BR]On 1/20/2003 10:01:29 AM mrplanes wrote:
[P]Piney:[BR][BR]IMHO, Dave has shown outstanding skill to this point in navigating the C11 scenario. He has the judge on his side as proven by the approval of the plan to go to the creditors for a vote. GE and RSA as well as the ATSB have shown confidence in his ability. He also has attained over a Billion Bucks from us in givebacks and work rule changes. From these facts no one can argue he doesn't know how to work the C11 process. At that he seems to be masterful.[BR][BR]Can he run an airline? Hmmmmm.... I agree with the premise of RJ's at off peak times and big jets as the need arises. I agree with using Alaska as a model if he sees us as the east coast version. The Carribean expansion makes great sense with the fleet and feed we have. The code share with UAL will be great if they get their act together. The pieces SEEM to be falling into place. Based on that I've seen he CAN run an airline. The unknowns are troubling however. Traffic, Fuel, War etc... will be his biggest challenges. There is also another challenge.[BR][BR]Us. Will he treat us as the MOST important asset of the company as JetBlue and Southwest do? Will his Harvard education allow him to do that? What we have given to save this company must be rewarded somehow. He needs to get us on his team in heart and mind and not just givebacks. Morale will suffer if he doesn't. And in a service industry that is not a good thing. We shall see.[BR][BR]I think he can do it. I just hope he understands how important his employees are in the process.[BR][BR]mr[/P]----------------[/BLOCKQUOTE]
[P][/P][STRONG][FONT face="Courier New"]one thing i found disturbing was dave doesn't seem to linger at any one company too long...check his employment history.[/FONT][/STRONG]
 

delldude

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Oct 29, 2002
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[P]
[BLOCKQUOTE][BR]----------------[BR]On 1/20/2003 7:21:57 AM mrplanes wrote:
[P]The AMFA guy is correct. This industry would get instantly healthy if U and UAL cease to exist. CAL and AMR will NOT go C11. They will get what they need without that hanging around their necks. They are not nearly as bad a shape as we and UAL were/are. And Bethune and Carty will not allow some judge to run their companies.[BR][BR][STRONG][FONT face="Courier New"]i don't think CAL can belly up again,can they...at least not 11?[/FONT][/STRONG][BR]I can't speak for UAL but I can for us. Siegle is the key. If (big if) he uses the tools we just gave him correctly we will be a very profitable and sucessful carrier. If (big if) he surrounds himself with intelligent and capable people we will flourish. If (not a big if) we continue to do our jobs as professionally as we have over the past 6 months of this nightmare we will become the carrier that people choose when they have a choice. But the whole ball of wax rests with Siegle. Our future is in his hands. I hope he knows what he's doing. If he doesn't the AMFA guy will look like a prophet.[BR][BR]mr[/P]----------------[/BLOCKQUOTE]
[P][/P]
 

diogenes

Veteran
Aug 22, 2002
2,515
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[blockquote]
----------------
On 1/20/2003 10:01:29 AM mrplanes wrote:

Piney:

IMHO, Dave has shown outstanding skill to this point in navigating the C11 scenario. He has the judge on his side as proven by the approval of the plan to go to the creditors for a vote. GE and RSA as well as the ATSB have shown confidence in his ability. He also has attained over a Billion Bucks from us in givebacks and work rule changes. From these facts no one can argue he doesn't know how to work the C11 process. At that he seems to be masterful.

Can he run an airline? Hmmmmm.... I agree with the premise of RJ's at off peak times and big jets as the need arises. I agree with using Alaska as a model if he sees us as the east coast version. The Carribean expansion makes great sense with the fleet and feed we have. The code share with UAL will be great if they get their act together. The pieces SEEM to be falling into place. Based on that I've seen he CAN run an airline. The unknowns are troubling however. Traffic, Fuel, War etc... will be his biggest challenges. There is also another challenge.

Us. Will he treat us as the MOST important asset of the company as JetBlue and Southwest do? Will his Harvard education allow him to do that? What we have given to save this company must be rewarded somehow. He needs to get us on his team in heart and mind and not just givebacks. Morale will suffer if he doesn't. And in a service industry that is not a good thing. We shall see.

I think he can do it. I just hope he understands how important his employees are in the process.

mr
----------------
[/blockquote]
-----------------------------------------------------------

Right on.

And adding to the list, can Dave change the corporate culture?

I know of a least one chain of command from bottom level supervision, right up to the Palace, that needs a thorough overhaul, as it historically has not heeded plain contract language, and when you prove this beyond ANY doubt, lie about it, cover it up, or rule against you anyway.

This is my 'canary in the mine.' I will not believe until this changes.
 

MrAeroMan

Veteran
Dec 29, 2002
895
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[blockquote]
----------------
On 1/20/2003 10:01:29 AM mrplanes wrote:

Can he run an airline? Hmmmmm.... There is also another challenge.

Us. Will he treat us as the MOST important asset of the company as JetBlue and Southwest do? Will his Harvard education allow him to do that? What we have given to save this company must be rewarded somehow. He needs to get us on his team in heart and mind and not just givebacks. Morale will suffer if he doesn't. And in a service industry that is not a good thing. We shall see.

I think he can do it. I just hope he understands how important his employees are in the process.

mr
----------------
[/blockquote]
Has anyone read Gordon Bethunes book on how he turned Continental around? If not let me recommend it. Gordon is one of those guys that's a straight shooter and doesn't put up with any crap from his people. Tell him like it is and he'll deal with it. Lie to him and you're history. Bethune hired a guy named David Seigel to run the scheduling for CAL in 1994. Continental was about to run out of money and thanks to the team Bethune put in place Continental still breathes today. Dave was there to watch and learn from Gordon and I think that's where he's getting some of his strategies today. He's a smart guy. Don't underestimate his abilities (and I don't think Mr. is underestimating him, just my observation). I'm not saying he's a Gordon Bethune. U couldn't be as lucky as Piedmont was and U would've been if they'd played their cards right. They should've put him in charge when Colodny retired but we all know how that went down.
I think Dave is like any other airline employee. Once you get it in your blood you can't get it out which is why he's at U. I believe he's the man for the job. He should've been here years ago and I agree he's going to have to build some bridges and mend some fences to make this all work. Hopefully he won't take on the persona of Bronner! He's got the personality of a dead tree stump!
 

mwa

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Aug 20, 2002
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He should have learned the value of honesty from Gordo - then he would not have lied to and double crossed the pilots in regard to their pension plan.
 

mrplanes

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Sep 17, 2002
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Hence my points in the last paragraph. I'm NOT certain he lied to us but it certainly appears he misled us. As far as double crossing us, the jury is still out on that one. If he would commit to the pension we agreed to in LOA 84 regardless of a PBGC termination the problem would be solved. But as of yet he has not. I will hold judgement on this guy until that does or does not occur.

I will tell you this: Kelleher, Bethune, Iacocca, and the boys that VALUE a strong, ethics filled way of doing business with their employees would live up to their committments. Will Dave? This pilot pension issue is his defining moment. There are ways to get to what he agreed to in LOA 84 if he wants to. Regardless of the PBGC. I'm not certain he understands the gravity of not doing so.

mr
 

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